Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Business Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Harry Phillips


This study is based on the premise that sport occupies a unique and prominent position in Australian culture, such that it can be considered in institutional terms. Sport's interaction with another institution in Australian society - government, has undergone significant changes in the second half of the twentieth century. This changing relationship has had a substantial impact on sports public policy. The purpose of this study is to describe and explore this relationship in greater depth by examining the case of the Western Australian Football Commission (the 'Commission'). Australian Rules Football ('Football') is the largest spectator sport in Australia and is Australia's major indigenous sporting innovation. It is also a reflection of larger dynamics in Australian society. On the one hand it is a big business, driven by commercial considerations and its positions of power are coveted by the rich and influential, and those aspiring to be so. However, its roots are firmly anchored in tradition, the common people, identity and rivalry. Despite the relative importance of sport in Australian society it remains the case that it has only recently began to attract serious academic attention, this situation is amplified even further in relation to Football. The Commission's performance has not been subjected to systematic external review, even though its decisions have a direct impact on thousands of Western Australians and it has received substantial ongoing public funding. This case study will use a public policy approach to evaluate the performance of the Commission. It will seek to provide an answer to a question that has been prominently and frequently debated in the Western Australian community - has the Commission delivered on its range of objectives and in particular how has the public interest been served by the legacy of the government's 1989 rescue of Western Australian Football?